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Spyware Smear Campaigns

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About once or twice a week we receive a borderline-hostile email challenging our reviews and recommendations. We are sometimes able to trace these emails back to the source only to discover that the person who wrote it has some affiliation with a rival anti-spyware company. We thought we caught someone else doing exactly this a few days ago, but it turns out we were wrong. However, the chain of emails led to us uncovering some of the dirty tactics spyware vendors are now using on each other.

The original email was very "anti-Aluria", citing the WhenU-Aluria controversy. While we appreciate the various viewpoints on this subject, we are entitled to our own. We can summarize our position by stating that while we personally do not want pop-up advertising on our computers, as long as WhenU gives people a clear and informed choice about whether or not to accept this type of advertising, then they are not a spyware company - regardless of their past history. Furthermore, Aluria has given spyware companies a way in which they can reform. God Bless 'em.

We dug up some more coverage of the debate in this article printed recently in the Boston Globe. At the end, the article begins to uncover just a bit of the hostilities and smear tactics that many spyware companies are now resorting to in an effort to improve their sales.

If only it went that far.

The reader who sent in the email found this article at Spyware Guide, which purports to explain why Aluria is an untrustworthy company. The casual reader would be fooled by this article, as I was, into thinking that perhaps there was something fishy going on at Aluria. I contacted the President, Rick Carlson, about this and to make a long story short, here's what I found:

* The article misquotes Aluria's privacy policy. These are not typographical or small deviations, either. They are gross fabrications:

Spyware Guide:

ALURIA believes in permission-based marketing. By using our website and/or purchasing any products and services marketed by ALURIA, you expressly consent to the terms of this policy."

The above text does not appear anywhere in Aluria's privacy policy. Here's another quote:

The personal profile information that you submit to ALURIA and its Advertisers remains your property, but by submitting that information to ALURIA, you grant ALURIA the right to use that information for marketing purposes including, but not limited to, sharing such information via co-registration with Advertisers.

The above quote, as Spyware Guide points out, would make you think Aluria is going to sell your information to anyone they can. I was quite surprised when I read this, because we have bought a number of licenses of Aluria's product for testing purposes and have not received one unsolicited email from them. Rick Carlson, Aluria's president, verified this and said that the company has never sent out a single unsolicited email to purchasers of their products.

This makes a lot of sense, given that the actual quote from the privacy policy is this:

This Privacy Policy also applies to consumers that have agreed to receive e-mail and direct mailings from ALURIA and its Advertisers, whether at one of our Websites, via email, direct mail, on third party websites, via co-registration or otherwise. The personal profile information that you submit to ALURIA and its Advertisers remains your property, and will not be used by Aluria for marketing or shared with other companies without your express consent.

This quote expressly states that Aluria will not share your information with anyone without your permission.

* The article was written by Wayne Porter, the CEO of XBlock.

XBlock's XCleaner was one of the original products that we reviewed here at Adware Report. We eventually removed it from the reviews because the product did not work well on our computers and we could never get an reply from their customer support. We had assumed that the company had gone out of business, but it does appear that they are still selling their software.

* Spyware Guide is a website owned and operated by XBlock.

Emails sent to Spyware Guide are returned by XBlock customer support. Also, the WHOIS registrant for this site is:

Xblock Systems LLC
10187 Sperry Road
Kirtland OH, 44094

* Aluria's lawyers have sent a Cease & Desist letter to Spyware Guide to remove this article, and for good reason. It's not a matter of simply disagreeing with the article. The article grossly misquotes Aluria's privacy policy for the purpose of undermining their respectability as a company.

We'll keep our ears open about this one and keep you posted to new developments.

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Last Updated on November 13, 2004 06:49 PM ?|?TrackBack

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